This is the last of my spring break recaps. I promise! I hope I haven’t bored all of you too much. I’m definitely diving back into fitness and running tomorrow and have some good ideas for new posts. But this was a very special time for me, so I wanted to share it with everyone and maybe even inspire some to get out into nature more. Plus, seeing how happy my husband was to have all his pictures displayed publicly made this little deviation worth it.
The Grand Canyon is a spectacular ‘hole in the ground.’ It’s really a sight to see. But now that we’ve seen it, we don’t really have a desire to go back. We just didn’t seem to ‘connect’ with the park the same way we did with the others on our journey. It seems less nature and more tourist. It makes sense- this is after all one of the (if not THE) most visited national parks, with millions of visitors each year. And with that in mind, it’s really well run- great shuttle system, lots of food options and places to stay. The path along the rim is paved so everyone can easily access the overlooks, and the shuttle system carries you around much of the rim if you’re not up to much hiking.
But to us, it just lost a bit of the magic with all these innovations. Plus, we were apparently visiting during one of their busiest weeks of the year- not having a family, we forgot about spring break for schools. So we felt constantly surrounded by people, even on our more difficult hike.
Anyway- we arrived in the afternoon, and after some stress trying to figure out where to park and dealing with unexpected masses of people, we checked into the El Tovar. This is a really cool hotel literally feet away from the rim. It’s also a National Historic Landmark due to its age and unique structure. It was fun to stay there for a night.
We decided to keep it low-key since we were anticipating a strenuous hike into the canyon the next day. So we rode one of the shuttles out to a viewpoint that was about two miles from the hotel and walked back along the rim. The lighting at that time of day was really nice and the views were pretty wonderful.
We went to see a ranger presentation later that night. I LOVE these programs at National Parks, they are always fascinating. This was probably the best one I’ve ever seen. If you’re at the Grand Canyon and lucky enough to be able to see Ranger Ron give his living history on ‘Captain’ John Hance- GO.
We got up to walk out to the rim from the hotel and watch the sunrise- pretty spectacular.
We then enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the El Tovar with a view of the rim, providing us with adequate fuel to do the South Kaibab trail down to Cedar Ridge and back. We were on the trail by about 8:30 out of an abundance of caution- there are PLENTY of warnings about the dangers of hiking into the canyon and what precautions you must take. There’s even a sad story they post about a woman marathoner who ran Boston in a really fast time but then died in the Canyon after not planning properly for those rigors. (Sorry to be a bit of a downer right now…but it was kinda a way to finally tie this blog back into running….)
It is a pretty steep 1.5 mile hike down to the first resting point. We just wanted to get into the canyon a bit to experience that, but didn’t really have an interest in venturing further. Plus we didn’t want to be hiking in there during the afternoon sun.
We were really glad hiking back up that we had gone early since most of it was shaded at this time of the morning. We took the shuttle to the visitors center, and then walked the rim another 2.5 miles or so back to the hotel. At this point, both our feet were very tired. So, aside from setting up camp for that night’s sleep…we didn’t do much the rest of the day besides catch the sunset.
The next day, we rose early again to see the sunrise and have breakfast at the El Tovar (again- it was really good!). We then drove to Las Vegas, where we spent the night before our early flight back to Cleveland the following day. I’m not a Vegas person, but the hotel was really nice and we had a fabulous dinner at Stripsteak in the Mandalay Bay as a sort of send off for our trip.
What a great trip. Even better? Being reunited with these knuckleheads, who were totally pampered at their grandparents but still BEYOND excited to see us: